Related entry: Archangelica Officinalis.—Garden Angelica
The root, herb, and seed of the Archangelica atropurpurea, Hoffman (Angelica atropurpurea, Linné, Angelica triquinata, Michaux).
COMMON NAMES: Purple angelica, Masterwort, High angelica, Great angelica.
Botanical Source.—The Angelica atropurpurea has a root of a purple color, and a smooth, dark-purple, furrowed, hollow, glaucous stem, 5 or 6 feet high, and 1 or 2 inches in diameter. The leaves are ternately divided and the large petioles much inflated, channeled on the upper side; the leaflets are pinnate, 5 to 7 in number, sharply cut-serrate, acute, pale beneath, the terminal one sometimes 3-lobed, the lateral one of the upper division decurrent. The pale, greenish-white flowers are borne in three large, terminal, many-rayed, spreading, spherical umbels, 6 to 8 inches in diameter, without the involucre. The umbellets are dense, sub-hemispheric, on angular stalks, and with involucels of subulate bracts longer than the rays. The calyx 5-toothed; the petals equal, entire, with the point inflected. The involucels are short, about 8-leaved. The fruit is smooth, compressed, elliptic, somewhat solid and corticate.
Description.—The root is about 3/4 inches in diameter, and 3 to 6 inches in length. It is branched, of a pale, brownish-gray color on the external surface, which is deeply furrowed. Internally it is nearly white. It breaks with a short fracture, showing a thick bark finely dotted with resinous deposits, enclosing a soft wood. It has a fragrant odor, and is spicy and sweet to the taste, afterward bitter. It is extremely liable to the attack of insects.
History and Chemical Composition.—This perennial plant grows in fields and damp places, developing greenish-white flowers from May to August. The plant has a powerful, peculiar and not disagreeable odor, and a sweet taste,, succeeded by considerable pungency and spiciness; much of these properties is lost by dessication. They are due to a volatile oil, acrid soft resin, and a volatile acid. Starch also abounds in the root. The fresh root is reputed to act as a poison.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Aromatic, stimulant, carminative diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, and emmenagogue. Used in flatulent colic and heart-burn, and nervous headache. The root has been candied and eaten. It is said to promote the menstrual discharge. In diseases of the urinary organs, calculi and passive dropsy, it is used as a diuretic, in decoction with uva ursi and Eupatorium purpureum. Dose of the powder, 30 to 60 grains; of the decoction, 2 to 4 ounces, 3 or 4 times a day. The Archangelica officinalis, Hoffmann (Angelica Archangelica, Linné), may be substituted for the above.
Related Species.—Archangelica hirsuta, Torrey and Gra.(Angelica hirsuta, Michaux). U. S. (Southern States). Often collected with purple angelica, the root of which it resembles.